Festival of Science and Curiosity Review: Family Science Activities at Dales Centre Library

Words: Adrian Shaw
Friday 23 February 2018
reading time: min, words

The Festival of Science and Curiosity saw the city taken over by clever clogs. Our Adrian got down to one of the family events down the libraries…


This event was effectively a crystallisation and focussing on all that had gone before in the Festival of Science and Curiosity, and was full of people and exhibits I’ve come across at other science events in the city. Organisations participating included Ignite Futures, the Council, including from Central Library and this local library, both universities, schools like Dovecote Primary and Joseph Whitacre and PlayWorks Nottingham.

The activities, explorative play, and exhibits covered a huge range of topics likely to hit kids in their imagination centres; from brain-maps and psychological and mathematical games, to storytelling involving insects, birds and other animals and plants, including stuffed exhibits and fossils.  The magic of “the Mobius Strip” was unfurled as the twisted strip itself was cut from lengths of paper which were coloured, marked with a line along its length, before being twisted once and joined or a short tale or story written on by the participants, exemplifying and idea of an unending tale, or even “infinity”. Exciting, and a marvel for all ages. One in which I’ve shown and used in my own science-teaching incidentally.


Nearby were also at least two examples of “Wishing” or “Dream-catching” machines (or, from some shamanistic cultures, “prayer wheels”) mounting beads in “whirly fans” or other assemblies, gyroscopic toys and tubes, which also explored the ideas of virtual, untouchable images; folding story cards, with stories about nature, and one I particularly liked, which explored the rarity of blue/purple in nature – shown by a beautiful butterfly and the isolation and manufacture of the dyes/reagents responsible – which led to the colour of jeans, incidentally. This stand also demonstrated “Nature’s Raincoat”: the adsorption, not absorption of rainwater e.g. preventing wetting of bird or butterfly wings.

Students from the Joseph Whitacre school had earlier exhibited their robot cars and other AI projects at the Schools Symposium had incidentally exhibited their work under the aegis of University research staff at Central Library.

On a personal note, I was extremely enthused by the activities on offer at the Dale Centre Library, and impressed by the input, friendliness and ability to educate and entertain children as well as adults. All exhibited by the people staffing the various and varied colourful and exciting activities happening in the city.

Seeing as the festival was arranged to occur during schools’ half-term, so that parents and their kids had something exciting and educational to do, this particular event certainly ticked all the boxes; doubtless helping calm tempers and alleviate boredom at a particularly tricky and stressful time for families, with coffee and cookies.

Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity took place all over Nottingham from Wednesday 14 – Wednesday 21 February 2018

Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity website

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